Sulfatide, a major lipid component of myelin sheath, activates inflammatory responses as an endogenous stimulator in brain-resident immune cells

Sae Bom Jeon, Hee Jung Yoon, Se-Ho Park, In Hoo Kim, Eun Jung Park

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Sulfatide, a major lipid component of myelin sheath, participates in diverse cellular events of the CNS, and its cellular level has recently been implicated in many inflammation-associated neuronal diseases. Herein, we report that sulfatide alone can trigger pathological inflammatory responses in glia, brain-resident immune cells. We show that sulfatide changed the morphology of primary microglia to their activated form, and it significantly induced the production of various inflammatory mediators in primary microglia and astrocytes. Moreover, sulfatide rapidly triggered the phosphorylation of p38, ERK, and JNK within 30 min, and it markedly enhanced the NF binding activity to NF-κB and AP-1 binding elements. However, nonsulfated galactocerebroside, another major lipid component of myelin, had no effect on activation of glia. We further reveal that CD1d did not contribute to sulfatide-stimulated activation of MAPKs, although its expression was enhanced by sulfatide and sulfatide-treated microglial cells actually stimulated type II NKT cells. Sulfatide significantly stimulated the phosphorylation of MAPKs in glia from CD1d-deficient mice, and the phosphorylation levels were similar to those in wild-type littermates. Sulfatide-triggered inflammatory events appear to occur at least in part through an L-selectin-dependent mechanism. L-selectin was dramatically down-regulated upon exposure to sulfatide, and inhibition of L-selectin resulted in suppression of sulfatide-triggered responses. Collectively, these results show that abnormally released sulfatide at demyelinated regions may act as an endogenous stimulator in the brain immune system, thus causing and further exacerbating pathological conditions in the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8077-8087
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Dec 1


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology

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